The 76th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, mark humankind's living for slightly more than three-quarters of a century with the technological revolution of nuclear weapons, and under the "mushroom cloud" of nuclear terror.
Ominously, 76 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. political and military elites have forgotten the single most important lesson of the Cold War, that prevented the USSR from hitting America with thousands of Hiroshimas:
America kept the peace, prevented a thermonuclear World War III, and prevailed in the Cold War — because it did everything necessary to ensure the U.S. nuclear deterrent was second to none.
U.S. statesmen, generals, and scientists of the Cold War era 1945-1991 so respected and feared the power of nuclear weapons that Democrats and Republicans alike invested whatever was necessary to sustain these core principles that are foundational to nuclear deterrence:
- Never allow an adversary to achieve superiority in numbers of nuclear weapons;
- Never allow an adversary to achieve technological superiority in nuclear weapons;
- Maintain nuclear capabilities sufficiently credible to provide extended deterrence to protect U.S. allies;
- Never allow nuclear weapon technologies to proliferate to rogue states.
The Great Generation of U.S. leaders who won the Cold War by maintaining these principles knew that World War III was really possible, because many had lived through the apocalypse that was World War II.
Many witnessed or learned at school or from books like Winton Churchill’s "The Gathering Storm" how, during the 1930s, the western democracies, because of World War I and the Great Depression, had a crisis of confidence in their values.
Many elites, academics, and journalists of that era blamed capitalism and imperialism for the ills of the world, and flirted with communism, facism, and national socialism. Pacifism became appeasement and disarmament, leading to World War II and 60 million dead.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to most of The Greatest Generation, were and are not an indictment of Western Civilization, but a warning that pacifism run amok, disarmament and appeasement, can lead to a nuclear World War III.
"Peace Is Our Profession" — the motto of the now vanished Strategic Air Command —explains the role of robust nuclear warfighting capabilities, as did the motto of the Cold War victor, President Ronald Reagan —"Peace Through Strength."
Washington has forgotten these lessons and foundational principles for preventing future Hiroshimas and Nagasakis.
As in the 1930s, our civilization is undergoing a crisis of confidence in its own values.
Elites in Washington, journalism, and academia accuse the U.S. of being "institutionally racist" and condemn capitalism and Judeo-Christian civilization for all the ills of the world — including the nuclear arms race.
"Woke" senators recently wrote a letter to President Biden demanding that the next Nuclear Posture Review, scheduled for January 2022, recommend a "No First Use" pledge, so the U.S. would never under any circumstances use nuclear weapons first. This is the same as abolishing extended nuclear deterrence and telling U.S. allies that they are on their own.
Almost nothing could eclipse the "No First Use" pledge as a spur to nuclear proliferation, except the Biden administration’s desperate efforts to revive the failed Iranian nuclear dea — when Iran is only 10 weeks from an A-bomb, for all practical purposes already a nuclear weapons state.
Biden Administration efforts to revive nuclear disarmament negotiations with North Kore — already in possession of H-bombs and ICBMs — is another exercise in futility, and spurs nuclear proliferation.
Worse, China is building 250 new ICBM silos, probably for the DF-41 ICBM carrying 10 MIRVed warheads — which means in a few years China could have over 3,000 warheads, twice as many as the United States.
In the shadow of this new nuclear threat from China, "woke" senators and the Arms Control Association want to unilaterally cut the U.S. nuclear deterrent to "a few hundred warheads" — a merely symbolic Minimum Deterrent.
Anti-nuclear activists for minimum deterrence and banning the bomb pretend that their "wokeness" to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki gives them "the moral high ground." But unreasoning terror that results in dangerously irrational nuclear policies is "the moral low ground" most likely to kill millions.
Real respect for the power of nuclear weapons and their existential threat to humankind is manifest by those who remember the lessons of World War II and the Cold War, and coolly calibrate our preparedness to enforce the foundational principles of nuclear deterrence.
Who has the greater claim to seriousness about preventing burglary — the homeowner who merely puts a sign in his yard to warn-off burglars (the functional equivalent of minimum deterrence)?
Or, the homeowner who has a sign, burglar alarms, guard dogs, is armed, trained to fight home invaders, has neighbors watching his house, and supports a robust police force to arrest burglars?
Unfortunately, while the Pentagon rightly rejects Minimum Deterrence as proposed by “woke" senators and the Arms Control Association, current Pentagon plans surrender to Russia and China: superiority in modern missiles and bombers, superiority in nuclear warhead technology, and superiority in numbers of tactical and probably strategic nuclear weapons.
How to make an American Hiroshima? Fail to build a nuclear deterrent second to none.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. Read Peter Pry's Reports — More Here.
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